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Article: Health Hazards of High Acoustic Volume at Harkadot

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Health Hazards of High Acoustic Volume at Harkadot Each one of us has encountered a moment in the course of dancing at an Israeli dance session, a harkadot, where the volume reached alarming levels. It was to such a degree that screeching voices were heard coming from throats of quite a number of participants. They were demanding that the instructor lower, to a reasonable level, the volume of the music. Most of us, dancers, feel – and rightly so – that high sound volume spoils our enjoyment of dancing. It is not only an inconvenience; it is a real nuisance which causes short-term and lasting damage to our hearing. Alas, the damage to our hearing is only one of a series of health hazards afflicting the dance community by the above mentioned auditory phenomenon; these hazards have been described in several medical publications in Israel and abroad.

As a result of the potential health hazards to which we are exposed, it has become our goal to increase awareness among the dancers and especially the instructors. We hope to discourage those trigger-happy instructors from raising the sound volume and make them think twice before they touch to the volume dial.

Let me paraphrase from the Environmental Protection Agency’s site in a section called, “Noise and Radiation, and a publication, Effects of Noise on Health – Noise is an environmental disturbance which does not go unnoticed.

Degrees of sound volume in decibels (abbreviated dB):
   30 dB is considered ‘soft’;
>60 dB is considered ‘loud and disturbing’;
>80 dB and higher is considered ‘unacceptably damaging’.

According to the article, the health hazards of noise are as follows:
  • Bodily hazards - noise causes permanent or temporary loss of hearing; it raises the blood pressure; it disturbs heartbeat pace; it enhances flow of adrenaline; it upsets kidney function; it causes fatigue.
  • Mental hazards – noise causes fear; nervous breakdowns; it annoys; it disrupts concentration, learning ability and clear thought while working; it does not allow for relaxation.
  • Noise is a form of violence; it causes a state of helplessness and evokes aggression towards the source of noise.

Potential ailments which are the side effects of the physiological symptoms and the loss of hearing may be:

  • Heart and Vascular diseases - most studies point to high blood pressure as an early symptom of these diseases. Research shows that even children who are exposed to noise, such as a school building being located in proximity to an airfield, are prone to develop symptoms of these diseases.
  • Diffused dis-synchronization of brain waves that may be characterized by personality disorder.
  • Changes in the Endocrine system - i.e. increased excretion of the Adrenal gland and of cortical hormones.
  • Changes in the digestive systems as reflected in repeated nausea and heartburn, often coupled with severe headaches. (It has not been proven that these symptoms lead to ulcers.)

Unfortunately, loud sounds are experienced subjectively, perceived more as a nuisance, and often are not necessarily recognized for their potential health hazard. However, the long-term impact goes far beyond a mere discomfort. On the cognitive level, it has been documented that noise disrupts intellectual, occupational and social functioning; it can severely interfere with rational decision-making, thus increasing risks of accidents and amplifying personal conflicts. Other effects worth mentioning are fatigue, sleep disorders, enhanced stress and anxiety, moodiness, clinical depression and diminished sexual interest. Please read the full article at the Environmental Protection Agency site Link (Heb).

In future issues, we will publish more information on this subject, including the results of decibel measurements taken at different dance sessions, dancers’ reactions, comments and complaints.

Let us work hand in hand for our mutual health benefit.

Written by Adi Habad and translated by Zofia Shiber.